Dickey's Diary


Editor's Note: Readers of The Kentucky Explorer have been introduced to the Rev. John J. Dickey in past issues. Remember that he was a traveling preacher throughout the eastern part of the state during the years between 1880 and 1925. He helped to establish numerous churches and at least two colleges. He was also a teacher and a newspaper editor. However, his most enduring gift to us today may well be his diary that he kept faithfully during some 50 years of his later life beginning in the 1880s. In all, over 6,000 pages written in his own hand make up this interesting digest.
In this journal of his, Dickey often wrote down accounts of events daily. Much of the material concerns his day to day life. However, during the late 1890s he began to gather family history on various families he met in his travels. We are offering these interviews to our readers in the hope that they will be appreciated in the sense that Rev. Dickey intended. These interviews were written word for word as they were given to Rev. Dickey. Nothing has been changed.

March 3, 1898
Tonight, Hiram Farmer came to my room and said he had just come from the Webb Hotel, where he had been talking to a number of men about Jesus' power to save. He was happy. We went down into Bro. Lucas' room (a blind man). John Dixon, a lawyer from Hyden, was drunk and came into the room. He wanted me to pray for him. We had several songs. I read the scriptures and exhorted, and we all prayed. In the meantime the Negroes in the kitchen were lining out hymns and singing them.
When we left, coming through the office, there were four men playing cards. So things for God is here, and I look for results. O, for power in His spirit upon the people. Bro. Farmer and I agreed to go over to the Webb Hotel tomorrow night in response to an invitation by one of the boarders, Dr. Creech. There is work to do, and we are ready to do it. Bro. Farmer is a Campbellite sanctified at Bro. Pickett's meeting last fall.

March 6, 1898
Strange to say I am still suffering from my sore ankle. I have been laid up all week and since preaching today and attending Sunday School in the afternoon I am scarcely able to walk at all. Using my foot makes it worse. I believe I will have to get crutches and relieve it altogether. I am about 25% this morning. I was not able to preach tonight. There were about 25 at Sunday School. There is a very great decline in interest in both Sunday School and preaching services. The people refuse to attend these services. There are many people of the town who have never heard me preach, and many who have heard me seldom. O, for God's awakening! I trust on, work on, pray on, and expect to see results. If I should be disappointed in what I hope to see on earth, my reward is secure in heaven.

March 7, 1898
The devil is having full sway in this town and county. Saturday night at a Negro dance, two men were shot, but not fatally. Last night men were shooting about the streets at midnight. Tonight, they were doing the same soon after dark. There are drunken men in the room next to me as I write. One is a saloonkeeper and partner of my landlady. He is so drunk he hardly knows what he is doing. Still he and all the rest swear like sailors, belching out the most horrid oaths.
The county judge had the courthouse bell rung yesterday at 2:00 p.m. and held all engaged in the scrap Saturday night to appear Tuesday.
Dr. McDonald preached tonight. I was not able to go. He is passing from Hyden to London. Well, praise the Lord, I am still kept in His power. I trust Him and He keeps me.

March 8, 1898
Yesterday I received an express package of books from Barber and Smith, Nashville. It contained Standard Library No. 6 of that house which contains 50 volumes and five volumes additional, among them, Famous Leaders of Men.
This afternoon and tonight I have read three sketches of John Bunyan, Henry Ward, and Beecher and Wendell Phillips. It is rich fare. What a prolific writer Bunyan was. His saintly spirit inspiring his marvelous allegories have touched the nations. He was a hero, as well as a saint. His lofty courage never forsook him. His words will never die. Beecher was greatest among the great. Phillips was an Apollo in person and a Cicero in speech. The most admirable characteristic of these great men is their courage. They all possessed this in superlative degree. They were used to opposition, to jeers and taunts, and they gloried in tribulations. It is such as these men who work revolution and advance the progress of mankind. May their kind increase.

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